Cooking with Annie: Episode 6 – Roasted Tomato, Pepper, and Onion Omelette

Yesterday I spent the day outside in the light and warmth – listening to the birds and breathing fresh air.  While I was in the garden, walking wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of wood chips from the large pile out in the front yard to the walkways in and around the garden out back, I found myself repeating a mantra to myself.  As there is so much that is not within my control right now, my mind moved to all of the things of which I am in charge and do control.

I am in charge of the food I choose to eat.  I am responsible for how I move my body each day.  I can choose to be outside no matter what the weather.  I am the one who chooses what I buy or don’t buy.  I am the one who is in charge of how I treat my family, the kindnesses I offer others, the way I greet my fellow humans.  I can choose to wait before I speak.  I choose grace.  I choose intention.  I choose surrender.

The word surrender has a connection to the phrase, “I quit”.  But that’s not what I mean.  I surrender to the things I cannot change.  I surrender to peace – in my mind and in my space.  I surrender to something greater than myself.

And I felt better.  And continued to walk the heavy wheelbarrow of wood chips to the garden – creating new pathways and adding a layer of freshness to the already worn paths.  And I felt better.

Annie
safe, calm, kind

Cooking with Annie: Episode 4 – Using up Leftovers = Potato Soup

Since we are all cooking at home more, there’s got to be some leftovers happening in those kitchens of yours.  Before they get shoved to the back of the fridge, become a science experiment, and then head to the compost pile, what if we talked about how you can turn those little bits of this and that into another meal?

Now, more than ever, being creative with what we have on hand makes good sense.  Maybe you lost your job and you need to be really frugal about what’s happening in your household right now.  Or maybe you’ve got more people or fewer people in your house than normal (more if your kids or parents are with you, less if you are social distancing by yourself).  Perhaps you are only going to the grocery store once every two weeks.  Probably more than one of these is true for you.  No matter how the corona shutdown is affecting you, the practice of using up leftovers is a good one to bring back or begin for the first time.

How to actually accomplish using up leftovers without having the same meal again and again, is a little bit of an art, but also there are some basic guidelines.  In this episode I talk about a couple of basic steps for making soup.

  1. Pick three things in your refrigerator that you think will go together in a soup and cut them up into soup-sized pieces.
  2. Dice and sauté about 1 cup of onions unless you have leftover onions in the fridge and then use up those first.
  3. When the onions are soft, add the cut up leftovers.
  4. Add about 4 cups of water or broth to the pot and bring to a simmer.
  5. Check for salt and pepper and either serve as a chunky, rustic soup or puree in a blender for a more elegant result.
  6. Add any garnishes that will go – think leftover fresh herbs, stale bread for croutons, a few minced nuts, or some kind of dairy like grated cheese or creme fraiche.

In our family, even BC (before covid-19), we would do this once every week or every other week.  When the girls were little and taking lunch to school, we’d heat up some broth and add leftover noodles and veggies with perhaps a little chicken and this would be their lunch soup.

In any event, this is just one of many ways to use up leftovers and over the next several weeks I’ll be sharing more.  Hope you find it helpful!

Annie
#staysafe #becalm #bekind

Cooking with Annie: Episode 2 – How to Use What You Have

I’m hearing a number of people talk about not being able to find one or more ingredients at the grocery store these days.  This makes menu planning, something I highly recommend for all sorts of efficiency reasons, difficult.  Does one still plan and then change the plan according to what is available?  Or does one go to the store without a plan and then create a weekly menu once the selections are made and purchased.  Well, I’d propose that both could be true. The question really becomes, HOW to be flexible and HOW to think creatively about what’s on hand.

This has always been true for those of us who have gardens or buy from a farmer’s market.  Sometimes certain ingredients are just not in season, in stock, or ready for harvest just yet.  Even with that, our current challenges are causing us to exercise our flexibility muscle even more than usual. In this latest video, I talk about what we picked up from our farmer this week and how I think about creating a menu around the fresh ingredients we were lucky enough to bring home.  Here’s a list of what we got and then some of what we ended up making through out the week.  While they aren’t recipes, per se, they are guidelines and ideas.  Have at ’em!

Large yellow carrots
Carrot Salad – Grate and toss with diced tomato, some radish micro greens, a minced green onion, some minced sorrel from the garden, evoo, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Sliced Carrots – Serve with preserved lemon hummus made with garbanzo beans.
Steamed Carrots – Toss with a little butter and fresh dill.

Baby Orange Carrots
Pan-roasted – Sear in extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.  The leftovers became a carrot, ginger, coconut soup.
Fresh – As a snack with dip or not.

Rutabaga
Mashed – Peel and cut into chunks just like for mashed potatoes.  When tender, drain the water and mash with a little butter and creme fraiche.  To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for this dish and I was wrong to be so skeptical.  They were delicious.

Daikon Radish
Radish Salad – Grate and toss with garlic, ginger, lime zest, lime juice, sesame oil, and tamari.
Radish Pickles – Slice thinly and toss with salt.  Let rest for at least 30 minutes and then add apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Greens
They all got sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper and then became a part of other meals.  I’ll often use greens in place of the carbohydrate at the meal.  So for example, if we are having lamb stew with mashed potatoes, I’d skip the potatoes and substitute the greens.

Pea Shoots
Pea Shoot and Quinoa Salad – Mix with dried blueberries, spiced pecans, crumbled feta cheese, and tangerine balsamic vinegar.

The list above is just an example of what could happen in your kitchen.  It was based entirely on my pantry and ingredients we already had on hand.  Yours might look completely different, but hopefully this gives you a starting point from which to begin creating in your own kitchen.

So what do you have in your fridge that you don’t know what to do with it?  What recipe do you want to make with an ingredient you can’t get right now?  Ask away!  I can help.

Annie
#staysafe, #becalm, #bekind

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta

Kale, a humble vegetable, was all but unnoticed ten years ago except for by the most savvy of gourmands or those diehard back-to-the-landers. Those in the know were aware of what many have just recently discovered – that kale is not only super easy to grow, but it‘s also as delicious and versatile a vegetable as anyone might find.

Purple or green in color, Russian or Italian in variety, kale has become the academy award winner of vegetables – a virtual unknown thrown into the limelight by both it’s talent and the audience’s’ appetite for greens.

Because kale has so much “tooth,” meaning it has a hearty and chewy mouth feel, it can take center stage in place of meat. Only the staunchest of meat-eaters will be the wiser. As a green it is also what could be called an entry-level green – not so bitter or peppery for first-timers or kids with more sensitive palates.

We used to be more accepting of all things bitter, but as salt and sugar have become more prevalent in the American diet, our tolerance for the bitter flavors has waned.

Enter kale. Roast it with a little oil, puree it in pesto, whizz it in a smoothie and in general boost your iron; vitamins A, C and D; anti-oxidants and fiber. Go green!

kale, garbanzo bean, and polenta recipe

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced red onion; about 1 large onion
2 cups carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch by 1/2-inch sticks; about 2 carrots
1 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olive
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 1 large clove
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, juice included
8 ounces kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped; about 8 cups
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; about 1/2 cup lightly packed, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or stock pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots and olives and sauté until the onions begin to brown on the edges, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until heated through but the kale is still bright and chewy. Serve over polenta with grated Parmesan cheese. Use your favorite polenta recipe or find mine here.

Serves 4 to 6

Easy and Healthy Appetizers for Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday will surely see me on the couch with a wide perimeter given by my family (football viewing is an active sport for some).  Before the big day, though, I’ll do some prep work so that we can all snack and graze while I watch.  May the best team win!

Appetizer Menu for Super Bowl Sunday
Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
Baked Brie variations
Homemade Crackers
Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Tartlet
Potato Skins with Artichokes and Fontina
Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
Endive with Green Pea Hummus

healthy appetizers by Elizabeth Poisson

Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
When you trim artichokes immediately rubbing them with lemon juice can help keep them from turning brown.For those new to artichoke eating, break the leaves off of the artichoke and use your teeth to gently scrape the meat on the inside of the leaf. Discard the leaf. Once the leaves are gone, use a spoon to remove the choke (the fuzzy part) and enjoy the artichoke bottom.

2 artichokes, leaves and stems trimmed
1/2 lemon (plus extra for rubbing)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Cover 2 artichokes with water in a small saucepan or stockpot large enough to accommodate. Add the lemon and salt. Bring the water to a boil with the cover on and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain upside down. Serve warm or chilled with the Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip.

Serves 4

Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
The curry flavor will increase the longer you let it sit.

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (or less)
several pinches of kosher salt

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Makes 1 cup

Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Let’s have some fun rooting for our teams!  Go Pats!

Endive with Green Pea Hummus

Here’s a healthy appetizer for Super Bowl Sunday or a snack for any day that doesn’t have football in it.  Recently posted on Diane Atwood’s blog, Catching Health, this simple recipe for green pea hummus is packed with healthy vitamins.  Serve with endive, as in the recipe, or with all sorts of cut veggies to add color to your appetizer spread.

endive with green pea hummus by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Just remember, it’s only a game…

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts

Poached Salmon with Aspragus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts by Elizabeth Poisson

Last month I shared Lemon Poached Salmon with Horseradish and Caper Aioli and have another to share as a companion recipe.  This salad goes nicely with the salmon and is a good one for this time of year when we are all interested in fare that is light and healthy.   I mean, you haven’t jumped off the veggie wagon yet, right?  (Me either 🙂 )  I think I know what we are having for dinner tonight!

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts
There are two ways to prepare the orange sections for this recipe. One is simply to peel the orange and separate the sections. The second is to peel the orange with a knife, called supreme or supreming (I mean how does one actually spell this word?), by slicing off the top and bottom and running your knife between the flesh and the rind. You then run your knife along both sides of the section membranes to remove only the flesh. This is a nicer way to serve the orange, but also a bit more complicated. Choose whichever suits your comfort level..

3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for both sautéing and the salad)
2 cups asparagus thinly sliced on the diagonal, about 1 bunch or 15 to 20 stalks
3 cups lightly packed arugula
1 ounce shaved Romano cheese; about 1/4 cup
1 orange, sectioned, “carcass” reserved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice; about 1/2 lemon
2 pinches kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove to a platter and spread out to cool quickly. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Squeeze the “carcass” of the orange on top of the greens and toss gently with your hands. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Still on the veggie wagon

Seven Ways to Add More Greens to Your Diet

Now that we’ve all reveled and partied; socialized and entertained; and eaten and drunk possibly past the point of judicious reason on one or more occasions during the past holidays, it’s time for a more moderated approach. One with less. Of everything involving fat, carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and excess. The quickest and simplest way to find dietary equilibrium is by inserting more greens into our bowls and onto our plates.

healthy dinner ideas

Green vegetables of all kinds, as many of us know, are filled with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and fiber. What they aren’t filled with is the fore-mentioned excesses, unless we are talking portion size, and in that case, more is a good thing. I’m planning on getting my greens in any way I can over the next couple of months. Here are a few suggestions from my kitchen:

1. Add a salad to an already planned dinner. Easy, easy. This is something many of us already do; just make sure you have enough greens in the house and use a vinaigrette rather than a creamy dressing for a little while. When you dress your salad with lemon juice (and extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper) you have the added bonus of helping your body to absorb all of the nutrients in the greens.

healthy dinners

2. Salad as the main meal. Add protein of any kind and texture of any kind to create a meal rather than a side. Beans, avocado, nuts, dried fruit, cooked chicken or fish – really the sky is the limit.

3. Add another green vegetable to an already planned dinner. Steamed or sautéed is best for nutrient retention. With either, remove from heat when tender but still bright green.

4. Smoothies made with kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or collard greens. Or add a handful of greens to your already favorite breakfast smoothie. If you choose fruit or veggies that are light or green in color, your smoothie will also be bright green. If you love strawberries or other red or purple fruit in your smoothie, you’ll have to deal with dull green and brown. Get over it, they still taste great!

5. Add pureed greens to already prepared soups. For every soup that serves 4 people, heat 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock and puree with one cup lightly packed greens. Add to prepared soup right before serving and serve immediately. If not, the brilliant green becomes a dull avocado color.

6. Soups with greens as the main event.  Again, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or collard greens are the best go to’s.

Spinach Soup (with variations)
This soup is a gorgeous, brilliant green, and should be served immediately. If you would like to make it ahead, prepare everything just before adding the spinach. When you are ready to serve, heat the soup to a simmer and puree with spinach in the blender as per the directions.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
11/2 cups diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery; about 2 stalks
1 cup peeled and diced parsnips; about 2 parsnips
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 ounces spinach leaves, de-stemmed and well-washed; about 3 cups lightly packed
Garnish with minced chives or a swirl of creme frâiche

In a medium stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables, salt and pepper and sauté until they become soft and translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the stock and again bring to a boil.

Place the uncooked spinach leaves in the blender and pour the hot stock over the leaves. Puree in a blender and serve immediately.

Serves 4 (Makes 6 cups)

Soup Variations
Chicken and Cilantro Spinach Soup – add 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves with the spinach and 1 1/2 cups diced poached chicken.  Puree the greens with the stock or leave it rustic.
Cannellini Bean and Pesto Spinach Soup – add 4 tablespoons pesto with the spinach, puree, and then add 1 (15-ounce) can of cannellini beans.
Kale and Mushroom Soup – substitute kale for spinach, puree, and then add 1 cup sautéed mushrooms (3 cups raw and sliced).healthy soup

7. Substitute the pasta, potatoes, or rice for a bed of greens. For example, with beans and brown rice for dinner, just add a bed of sautéed kale, or even better, forgo the rice and just have the beans and kale with all the fixin’s. Instead of mashed potatoes, add roasted kale or collard greens to your plate. Toss spinach leaves with a hot vegetable pasta sauce and have a warm wilted salad for dinner without the pasta.

Annie
Vitamins rule

 

 

Holiday Appetizer – Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves

Rosemaryt Cheese with Apricot Preserves by Elizabeth Poisson

Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
A reader gave this recipe to me and I’ve adjusted it a tiny bit by adding more goat cheese. The black pepper and honey work well together next to the rosemary and the preserves just make it something really special.

This could make a lovely holiday gift if packed in a small crock or a special addition to your holiday appetizer plans.

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese; about 1 cup
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons apricot or fig preserves

Combine all ingredients except the preserves in a food processor. Pack into a shallow serving dish or small crock and chill. Cover thickly with apricot preserves and serve with assorted whole grain crackers or the Homemade Crackers found in Sugar & Salt: Book 1 (the Blue Book).

Makes 2 cups

Annie
Just got the wreaths today and the house is full of evergreens!

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Take Four – Turkey Shepard’s Pie

Thanksgiving dinner is truly my favorite of all the holiday meals, but it’s a toss up as to whether I like the meal itself or the leftovers more.  Here’s another idea for how to use up all those delicious leftovers and a few from previous years to keep you busy for a couple of dinners following the big one.

Thanksgiving Leftovers
One – Leftover Turkey Soup and/or Leftover Turkey Sandwich Ideas
Two – Turkey Hash
Three – Potato Cakes, Potato Bread, Potato Leek Soup

Also, don’t forget to freeze and label what you won’t use in the several days following the big meal.  Save it all for later in the winter when you need a weeknight dinner right quick and in a hurry.

Turkey Shepard’s Pie
In a casserole dish, layer cooked turkey meat, gravy, cut up green beans (or other vegetable) and top with mashed potatoes or mashed squash.  Bake at 350°F or until the edges are beginning to brown and the center is hot all the way through.  If you don’t have enough gravy, make a little sauce of your own by heating up the turkey and the green beans with a little butter in an oven-proof skillet.  Sprinkle with flour and stir to incorporate.  Add a cup or so of stock and stir.  Add more if the mixture is too thick.  Then layer the rest of your ingredients on top.